Tuesday, January 6, 2015

3 Things I Do to Help My Writing

Grandson working on his secret to writing.

Many people have asked what my daily writing routine is like. I think they are looking for some secret that will help their writing. I believe that secret is different for every person, but if it will help someone I’ll share three things that I do in general to help my writing: treat writing like a business, take productive criticism, and make time for family and church.




1) Treat writing like a business . . . 
Many would-be writers nod their heads and say, yeah I do that. But do they? Do they get up every morning, shower, put on makeup or for guys shave, and go to work? Okay some of the perks of being a writer is working in your jammies with pillow hair. I hear you. And yes, I have done that especially when I’m up against a deadline. However, I must admit my most productive days are when I show up at my keyboard ready to work. For me, that means showered, dressed, and makeup on. 

Also, you need to put the hours in, you know, clock in so to speak. Working more than just eight hours a day is pretty much the norm when a writer has a deadline, edits, and promotion all at the same time on several different books. It happens. 

So treat your writing like a business, because that’s what it is for a writer. 

 2) Take productive criticism . . .  
 This is very important. Your writing will become much stronger if you learn how to take productive criticism. At first criticism feels like a personal attack, and sometimes, it can turn out that way. Some critics can become mean-spirited and have personal vendettas that have nothing to do with you or your writing, but everything do to with making themselves feel superior. Don’t listen to those people. 

Find a group who has your best interests at heart, and also, who are better writers. The reason I say that is, better writers will make you grow. I’ve been part of a writers/critique group for many years. And yes, most of them are better writers than I am. Still I try my best to learn from them. There have been days when I have come home from group wondering why I wanted to become a writer because I have felt pretty bruised by their critiques. But then I sleep on it, and when I feel ready, I look at their comments again and many times they are right. However, sometimes when I need something crucial to happen in my story that they disagree with, I’ll tell my group, “Help me find a way to make this happen.” And then the ideas start flowing which usually sparks a solution to my dilemma. 

So learn to take productive criticism and use what your story needs. 

3) Make time for family and church . . . 
I’ve always tried to make time for my family and have written with an open door policy, but then life happens, deadlines loom, and pretty soon your family starts to feel left out. I try hard to make my writing schedule coordinate with family events. It can be difficult especially when unexpected health problems crop up just before a deadline, but being able to stop writing to help someone is one of the perks of being a writer. (This is a good reason to work with a story outline and jot down notes as you write so when you have to stop, you can start again without losing too much time.) Being there for those you love is important, as is serving in your church.

I remember when I first published and was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I thought of resigning my church calling because between writing and my family there wasn’t much time left. A wise person advised me to always make time for family and service to others. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been well worth it. I’ve learned compassion and understanding through church service and my family, and both have helped my writing immensely. 

So make time for family and church because in the long run you’ll never regret it. 

There you have it, the three things I do to help my writing. They aren’t iron clad and I’m always looking for ways to improve. What do you do to help your writing?
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